Why Is My Marketing Strategy Not Working? I'm Doing Everything Properly...Right?

In this post, I want to talk about something that I think most small business (more likely all businesses in actual fact) face at some point in time - the fear that their marketing strategy just isn't working. I know that I've come up against this personally and so I understand that it's not a nice place to be.

So, I thought I'd write an article that will outline some steps I have taken when analysing poor performance before turning it around to be ultimately successful.

I guess I'm writing this post for anyone who is experiencing the following kinds of issues:

  • My website is ranked #1 or #2 for all of my target keywords - why am I getting no traffic?
  • I've got the best product and sales pitch possible - why does everyone keep hanging up on me?
  • My analytics data looks perfect - why am I getting no enquiries
  • I think my site looks great - why do I have an 80% bounce rate
  • Google can make a billion dollars easy - why can't I? (Ha, that one was a joke).

Hopefully you get the idea though. Sometimes, everything can look perfect, but at the end of the day it's just not turning into extra orders. Well, if that's what you are going through now, I hope this post will help.

Here is the first thing that I found extremely helpful in fixing my own problems.

So, why isn't my marketing strategy working? I'm doing everything properly. I am.....right?

Confused about your marketing strategy
I'm working so hard on my marketing strategy - why isn't it working!?

I think the road to recovery starts with asking yourself this question. I mean really asking it - with full honesty and openness in mind. The first thing I had to realise - and this was really hard the first time - was that I actually hadn't been doing things properly at all. I had certainly been extremely busy, spending hours a day tweaking everything from logo design and landing pages to page content and social media posting frequency. Now, these are definitely good things to be concerned with, although only if they are taking you in the right direction.

Consider these phrases:

  • Anyone can be a busy fool
  • It doesn't matter how quickly you climb the latter if it's propped against the wrong wall

Understand what I mean? I was basically being a busy fool. Although I thought my strategy was sound, it most certainly wasn't. And, therefore, everything else I was doing was taking me further away from the goal I thought I was working hard towards. In fact, I think that this is probably the biggest lesson of all to learn in terms of sorting out any marketing problems you have - have an honest review and make sure you are heading in the right direction still.

The key thing to remember is that your own personal (or 'gut) feelings don't really matter - it's not you that you're trying to sell to remember. Try and look at the situation from the perspective of someone who hasn't met you or your business yet (also, you can read more about how to prepare your marketing strategy here).

Okay, I've done that - how do I fix the other stuff now?

Answering this question properly would depend on your exact circumstances, which obviously I don't know. So, what I'll do is give 3 examples of things that might be going wrong - hopefully this will give you at least a start in trying to work out your individual processes.

The key to fixing all of these problems is actually in stepping back and really questioning if your personal (or 'gut') feeling is correct. Remember, it's not you that you're trying to sell to. However, I'll go into each in a bit more detail and try to explain how I would deal with the problem.

Scenario One: I'm on page one of Google and getting loads of traffic, but next to no enquiries

I bet that this one in particular is a really common grip with business owners and webmasters. It's certainly caused me a few headaches in the past. The basic problem here is that you identify your keywords, you work hard to rank for them and then after months of hard work, you get to spot one or at least you're on the first page.

Happy days.

Well, not really. The trouble is that you're still not seeing any increase in enquiries or new business. The problem here is pretty simple to identify - as hard as it is to admit it, you've targeted and optimised your site for the wrong keywords (remember what I said about the ladder being up against the wrong wall?). What I have done in this case it first of all swallow my pride, admit I made a mistake and then go back to the drawing board and work everything out properly. Keyword selection is so important when it comes to your overall strategy that it's worth spending a bit more time on it than you think necessary. You might be surprised at your results.

For example, I once ranked a site in the top 2 positions for a very competitive term ('lead generation'). However, it didn't result in the expected huge spike in enquiries that we expected, especially given the level of traffic it brought in. However, after re-optimising for 'online lead generation companies', we noticed a large spike in enquiries even with the marked drop in enquiries. Attention to detail is king here.

So, if you are experiencing similar problems, I'd suggest going back to the drawing board and making sure that you really are targeting the correct keywords.

Update: While keywords are still important, it's probably best to think more in terms of themes now rather than individual search phrases. More on that in the post linked above.

Scenario Two: I've got a great product and pitch, but people aren't interested and keep hanging up on me

This is a really easy one to answer - people can't stand telemarketers nowadays :-) I'm only kidding, it's not that simple - although it's worth bearing in mind that telemarketing is much harder now compared to how it used to be and you should really assess whether you want this to be a large part of your lead generation strategy anyway.

If it is something you want to pursue, then I'd say you really have to make sure that every call you make is well researched and that the person/company on the other end of the phone can really benefit from your product or service. This worked wonders for me anyway.

Early in my career, I used to simply call through a list of numbers that I had grabbed from Yell, Google or somewhere like that. It worked for a while, but then I started to get nowhere - fast. It was at that point I started looking into intelligence based telesales and I never looked back from there.

So, the problem here isn't necessarily that your product or pitch is bad, it just might be a case of you calling the wrong type of person/business at a time when successful telemarketing is a lot harder that it ever used to be anyway. What to do is get smart about your calls - do your research, know your prospect and how you can help them before you even call.

You can read more about intelligence based telesales here.

Scenario Three: I've got hundreds of Twitter followers, but I get no traffic from it

Yep, this one can be infuriating. The best advice I can give here is that you shouldn't really worry about it - I think a lot of small businesses seem to have no problem in building up followers, but they don't necessarily see an marked increase in traffic from it.

The thing to bear in mind with Twitter is that even without a particular strategy in place, it's actually really easy to pick up followers, even by accident. Almost without question, a lot of bots will follow you and so will people who just want you to follow them back :-).

In no way am I dismissing the power of Twitter, I'm just saying that if it's getting you down that you don't seem to have much engagement, it's probably nothing against your business.

So, with this one, I'd say the best thing you can do is not get disheartened by it - keep following relevant accounts, interacting with them as much as you can and also posting useful and engaging content. This way, you're sure to see good returns from your work eventually.

Also, here is a post about using Twitter with a local marketing focus in mind that you find useful.

Scenario Four: My Adwords campaign has a click-through-rate of 12%, but it's costing me more to run than I earn from it

Again, this is a case of just because something looks all nice and shiny, it could still be fools gold. However, in the case of Adwords this could also cost you a fair amount of marketing budget. So, the specific problem you might have here is that you see that you have written great, engaging ads and your click-through-rate (CTR) is well above average. So, you're getting a lot of traffic through to your site and landing pages, although you're just not seeing the return on your investment.

What is the problem here?

Well it's almost the same as the issue I mentioned in scenario one above - you're probably choosing the wrong keywords to trigger your ads, most likely they are too broad. For example, let's say you want to sell red shoes with gold buckles, so you set up a Google Adwords campaign to promote this. You notice that the term 'red shoes' attracts tens of thousands of searches per month and you think, 'Bingo!' - that's my best search phrase!'. 

However, this will more than likely attract a lot of clicks that you will pay for, but that won't turn into business. People could be looking for pictures, reviews or just doing some research and will click on your ad out of interest because it shows up when they search.

So, the best thing to do here is to go back and do your research again. Then you would remove your old keywords and implement your new keywords, which would be much more specific. For example, you might choose keywords such as:

  • [red shoes with gold buckles]
  • [red shoes for sale with gold buckles]
  • [buy red shoes with gold buckles]

That way, you will attract the right type of visitor and your Adwords spend will deliver much better returns for you.

Scenario Five: I'm writing great content, but Google won't send me any traffic. Boo. :-( 

I certainly feel your pain on this one. I like to think that I create decent (maybe not great) content and I think Google and Bing should get their respective acts sorted and start sending me way more traffic than they currently do :-)

I'm obviously only kidding about that, although I must admit that I've felt a bit hard-done in the past when I thought I'd written a great article, only for it to get absolutely buried by the search engines.

The key lesson here? You've guessed it - I wasn't (or am not) writing great content! :-) That's a tough lesson to learn, although when I learned it, I started putting much more effort into my articles and noticed that some of them had started to rank pretty well.

So, my advice to you would be the same - simply start writing better and stick at it, eventually your hard work will pay off. I've also written a post about how you can plan and write great blog content here.

In Sum

This article was written to try and help get you through any slumps that you might be going through and - although the specific scenarios above might not apply to you - I hope the general message gets through: that if things look like they should be doing well, but aren't, they probably need a much closer look from a new perspective! :-)

Here are a few points to consider:

  • You aren't trying to sell to you - just because you like the look of something, ot doesn't mean your target market will
  • Is your ladder up against the right wall? You can be very busy working on something that is taking you in the wrong direction
  • Have you done your research properly? Think keywords, target market etc
  • Above all, be honest with yourself!

If you liked this post, you might also want to read 'Really, How Hard Does Marketing Have To Be? A Lesson From Fitness.'

Thanks for reading!

By Alan MacDougall
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Revenue Builder is a small business marketing strategy and tips blog designed to help small business owners and startups maximise sales revenue.

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